HARROD – Columbus Grove punter Caleb Barrientes thought he had the green light for a fake punt and took it.
It’s a good thing he made it.
Barrientes ran for a first down off the fake punt, and that sparked the Bulldogs in a 28-14 victory over Allen East Friday at Bill Goodwin Field.
Columbus Grove is 6-3 and tied for the top spot in the Northwest Conference at 5-1. Allen East is 4-5, 3-3 in the NWC.
Columbus Grove led 7-0 after the first quarter and 14-7 at the half.
Columbus Grove started Brady Hauenstein at quarterback, with regular-starter Blake Reynolds (right shoulder) on the comeback after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 7 against Spencerville.
With the game tied at 7 late in the final three minutes of the first half, Grove had the ball fourth-and-2 at its own 30.
Grove punter Barrientes faked a punt and ran it 2 yards for a first down.
“I did not call that, and the first thing I did was talk to our special teams coach, and he did not call that,” Columbus Grove coach Andy Schafer said. “Nobody really called that other than Caleb Barrientes.
“But we have given him the ability to do that kind of thing, and that’s not the first time he’s done it this year. I guess we just assumed he wouldn’t do it at that time. But if he’s going to do it, he got it. Caleb is a competitor. It was a momentum shifter.’’
Reynolds then came back in at quarterback and threw a pass down the middle of the field, which was tipped by a pair of Allen East defenders.
The ball ended up in Grove wide receiver Gabe Clement’s hands, and he took it 44 yards to the Mustangs’ 24.
Three plays later, Bulldogs’ Trevor Taylor ran it over from the 3 with a spin move. That gave Columbus Grove a 14-7 lead with 40 seconds left before halftime.
Grove started the third quarter with a four-play, 51-yard drive to score.
Taylor swept the left side for a 13-yard TD to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead. That came with 10:47 left in the third quarter.
The Mustangs had their chances to get within one score.
Late in the third quarter, the Mustangs drove to the Grove 3, but a fourth-and-goal pass by Tyler Clum was incomplete in the end zone.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs’ Hunter Paxson picked off a pass at the Grove 33 and returned it to the Grove 8.
But Allen East fumbled the ball back to Grove on the next play.
“We had our chances, and that’s where we are as a program,” Allen East coach Wes Schroeder said. “We can’t get over that hump when we have to make them. We got down there a handful of times and couldn’t punch it in.’’
Clum completed 21 for 39 for 229 yards out of the spread attack. He threw one TD and had one interception.
Paxson ran 12 times for 53 yards.
Bradden Crumrine had seven catches for 69 yards and a 7-yard TD catch.
For Grove, Hauenstein had 18 carries for 111 yards.
“Coach told me I would be the man, and he just wanted to get Blake in a little bit,” Hauenstein said. “I think playing last week against Jefferson definitely helped me. Especially when it started raining tonight, I had that under my belt. And it helped me a lot with the reads.’’
Bulldogs tailback Garrett Nemire had 23 carries for 102 yards. He had one TD of 2 yards.
“They were following Nemire a lot on a lot of the plays,” Hauenstein said. “I just had to read the defense.’’
Reynolds completed 2 of 5 for 66 yards.
“Blake got hurt against Spencerville,” Schafer said. “He did get cleared to play this week, so we thought let’s try to get him some playing time. We wanted to protect him. We knew we had to run the ball and we didn’t want to do that with Blake, so we put Brady in there. Brady’s a pretty good runner.”